One of the EQ training workshops brought student entrepreneurs together at UMSL, where they learned from experts at the Cortex Innovation Community based in St. Louis.
Entrepreneurship can start at any age—and the University of Missouri System is looking to help young entrepreneurs get their start. Each year, students from all four UM System schools have the chance to jump-start their own venture with the Entrepreneur Quest (EQ) Student Accelerator. This year’s virtual event may be different than previous years, but the economic uncertainty accompanying the COVID-19 crisis highlights that there is no better time to help support students in building entrepreneurial skills that can give them an edge.
This round of EQ began last fall, when all four universities held student workshops covering business models, venture pitching and the EQ application. University and business leaders selected the most promising applicants to pitch in a semi-final competition at each university. These semi-finalists participated in the eight-week EQ educational program, where they participated in workshops, mentoring, demo days and coaching from local entrepreneurs to sharpen their pitching skills. At the end of the educational program, the semi-finalists from MU, UMKC, Missouri S&T and UMSL competed in another pitch competition where judges picked three finalists from each university to compete in a system-wide competition.
Due to social distancing restrictions, the system-wide pitch competition could not happen in-person. Luckily, the UM System’s switch to online platforms made it possible to hold the competitions on April 15 and 16 via Zoom.
“I know the last several weeks have been difficult, and I am so glad that we have this competition to support our student entrepreneurs as they solve real-world problems,” said President Choi in opening remarks for the event.
The finals were also supported by a generous donation from Dave Spence, a Mizzou alumnus who has his own business in the St. Louis area. Of the final 12 teams that pitched to a panel of judges for the chance to make their business dreams a reality, the winners were:
1st Place: Pollinate
2nd Place: Bionic Bowel
3rd Place: Vest Heroes
EQ provides training and support that equips student entrepreneurs with the skills to help them solve the challenges in society that are most important to them. As their businesses compete and grow, these students will continue to embody the UM System’s mission to advance student success.